Soccer star, STEM enthusiast
A conversation with an All-American
By Hannah Jackson ’24
Anika Washburn is a star on the soccer field and in the classroom. In November, she was named the 2021 University Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year after posting one of the best years in the history of CWRU women’s soccer. A senior midfielder, she led the UAA with 40 points on 15 goals and 10 assists.
In December, she was named First Team Academic All-American for Division III Women’s Soccer for the second year in a row, becoming the first player in program history to earn first-team honors in multiple years.
Washburn carries a 3.96 cumulative grade point average as a computer science major in the Case School of Engineering while pursuing minors in math and Spanish. She’s also a Junior Senior Scholar, a Peer Advisor for the School of Engineering, and co-president of Girls Who Code, a STEM enrichment group for local teen girls.
Here are some excerpts from an interview with the senior from Brookfield, Wisconsin.
How do you juggle both a successful academic and athletic career at Case?
Soccer helps me with time management. I know when I need to get work done between practices, travel trips, and games. It’s made me efficient with utilizing my time and figuring out my best study schedule.
How do soccer and engineering overlap for you?
Engineering and soccer are very similar. You problem solve as an engineer by collaborating with your team. In soccer, it’s about identifying a problem that you face on the field and working with your teammates and coaches to solve it together.
What are your plans for the future? Do you wish to continue your education, go into the workforce, or continue your soccer career somehow?
I’ll be graduating in the fall of 2022, so I will be playing one more soccer season here at Case. I’m interning at Microsoft this summer as a software development engineer. I’ve interned there the past two summers, but it’s been remote, so I’m hoping to get the in-person experience this summer in Seattle. If I like it, then I’ll pursue that job full time starting in January of 2023.
What’s it like interning for Microsoft?
Overall, it was a really good experience. I worked on Azure Storage, which is cloud storage, with two different teams the past two summers and I’ll be interning with a different team this summer. I really like all the opportunities that Microsoft gives you and the ability to change teams within the company to get entirely new experiences.
How long have you played soccer?
I started playing soccer when I was four or five years old. My older brother plays soccer and he’s the one who got me into it.
Did you know you wanted to play soccer in college?
I wasn’t sure I wanted to play soccer at the collegiate level, as academics always comes first for me. I started reaching out to different schools in the UAA conference, because they’re strong academically and athletically, and that led me to Case. I was looking at Division III schools that offered good academics and a good soccer program and with Case being a great engineering school, I knew it would be a perfect fit.
Any role model players?
My brother is a big role model for me. I grew up playing with him and my neighbors, who were all guys, so I think that’s how I got to where I am now, just playing with the quicker, more athletic people around me and learning to adapt to those situations.
What do you love about your sport?
I love soccer because it puts me in a different world. I can forget about everything going on in my life and just focus on that soccer game with my teammates, who are my best friends.
Tell us about your experience with Girls Who Code.
Girls Who Code is a club that introduces computer science to high school girls in the Cleveland area. We have started doing online sessions with COVID, but it’s really nice to see any girl become interested in STEM through our classes. A lot of them aren’t introduced to coding in high school, so knowing that we’ve influenced them to go the same route that we’ve gone, and let them know that it’s great to be a woman in STEM, is something that I’ve really enjoyed.
What do you do as a Peer Advisor for the Case School of Engineering?
We have a group of 12-15 students who are all different engineering majors and we offer advice to students. We offer guidance in selecting courses, opportunities for internships or co-ops, and direct them to the right resources. We have scheduling parties. It’s just being someone they can talk to about studying engineering. It’s my way of giving back to the engineering community.